TV audiences seem more and more comfortable with moral gray areas. On FX's The Americans, the show's main protagonists are Russian KGB operatives sent to spy on America during the Cold War. And Netflix's new original series House of Cards takes the traditional antihero approach one step further by having Kevin Spacey's political operator Frank Underwood talk to the audience while carrying out his duplicitous deeds. Click ahead to see a few more "bad guys" we can't help but root for.
Photo by: Craig Blankenhorn/FX, Netflix
Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Breaking Bad
These days, Walter White is a stone-cold murderous psychopath, but he wasn't always that way. Mr. White started out as a meek cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who needed to ensure his family's financial security. In other words, he's an everyman — so empathetic in his ordinariness and the bad hand life dealt him that of course it made sense to turn to cooking meth to bring in the bucks. That his pride has driven him to become The One Who Knocks is just an unfortunate but intriguing consequence. Plus: How could you not feel a little bad for him when Skyler told him that she's just waiting for him to die?
Add to Watchlist: Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston
Photo by: Ursula Coyote/AMC
Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), The Sopranos
Sure, Tony is a mob boss, but it's important to separate the job from the man. While he's offed and ordered hits on his share of guys, Tony's moral compass never solely pointed at "evil." His confessions on Dr. Melfi's couch, panic attacks and commitment to both his "families" always suggested that he was capable of changing for the better — and how could you not root for that?
Add to Watchlist: James Gandolfini
Photo by: Anthony Neste/HBO/Kobal Collection
Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), The Shield
A man who breaks many of the laws he's sworn to protect, Vic is the definition of a corrupt cop. Although the show put Vic's evil on display early and often (he shot a fellow cop in the face in the pilot!), Vic's moneygrubbing schemes were somewhat mitigated by the fact that he was a family man trying to provide for his wife and his autistic children. Although those rationales eventually failed to hold water, we were always intrigued by Vic, even as his fate eventually caught up with him.
Add to Watchlist: Michael Chiklis
Photo by: Prashant Gupta/Fox/Everett Collection
Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), Sons of Anarchy
It's pretty much a given that a show about motorcycle-riding outlaws is going to feature some dubious acts. But Jax won us over in the earlier seasons with his desire to make his club legitimate, a task his father died trying to accomplish. Sadly, over the years, Jax has strayed from his righteous path and has become more and more like Clay, the man who killed his father. Still his love for his wife, his two boys, and his leather-wearing brothers give us hope that, despite the bloodshed, he might still be able to find some redemption.
Add to Watchlist: Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam
Photo by: Prashant Gupta/FX
Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), Damages
Driven by her overwhelming need to win, Patty has done some truly terrible things, including trying to murder her eager new associate Ellen (Rose Byrne) and killing a reluctant witness' dog. But we like to think her motivations aren't purely driven by headline-seeking ego. After all, she represents the everyman when she sticks it to corporate bigwigs in the courtroom. Sometimes the ends justify the means, no?
Add to Watchlist: Damages, Glenn Close
Photo by: Ursula Coyote/DirectTV/Everett Collection
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), Dexter
We don't usually condone the work of serial killers, but we feel a bit better knowing that Dexter's victims are actually criminals who slip through the system. When Dexter gets them on his table, he forces them to face their pasts before he drives a knife through their hearts. Though he was once an emotionless murderer, Dexter has grown into a loving family man, something that's finally made him relatable.
Add to Watchlist: Dexter, Michael C. Hall
Photo by: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Justified
Thank goodness for rewrites! Although Boyd was initially supposed to die in the series pilot, the producers decided to keep the explosion-loving white supremacist alive because of his chemistry with leading man — and childhood friend — Raylan Givens. While Boyd's criminal endeavors are no longer racially motivated, he's still quick to use violence when need be. But Boyd's greatest weapon is his silver tongue, which he's used to win us over during his religious transformation, his love affair with Ava and everything in between. He may not be the show's main draw, but we can't take our eyes off of him.
Add to Watchlist: Walton Goggins, Justified
Photo by: Prashant Gupta/FX
Evil Queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla), Once Upon a Time
Sure, she unleashed an evil curse upon fairy tale land that ruined everyone's happy endings, but over the course of the past two seasons, we've come to understand the pain that made the queen so evil. As a young woman, her own evil mother ripped out her lover's heart and forced her to marry a powerful king. Who can't sympathize with Regina for growing to hate Snow White, the woman responsible for her mother's act?
Add to Watchlist: Lana Parrilla
Photo by: Jack Roawnd/ABC
Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), Boardwalk Empire
The Prohibition Era politician-gangster may rule Atlantic City through shady tactics, intimidation and murder, but we've seen glimpses of the man he could be. Intelligent and funny, Nucky can be a charmer (like when he performed a clever juggling-story for his nieces and nephews) and he does have a soft spot for the downtrodden, including his wife Margaret (Kelly Macdonald), who once was married to an abusive man. Although we're still mad at Nucky for killing off Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), we understand that sometimes tough decisions have to be made if you want to be more than "half a gangster."
Add to Watchlist: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Photo by: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Klaus (Joseph Morgan), The Vampire Diaries
He might be the biggest danger to the Mystic Falls gang, but as long as he doesn't actually kill them, we want him to stick around. While it's hard to ignore his good looks, what we can't resist is his charm that surfaces when he tries to woo Caroline. Call us crazy, but even the smirk he makes when staking someone is pretty awesome.
Add to Watchlist: Joseph Morgan, The Vampire Diaries
Photo by: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW
Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe), Revenge
Yes, some of the things the Grayson matriarch has done have been unimaginable (like betraying her lover David Clarke), but her icy delivery and the stylish manner in which she carries out her heinous acts are pretty great. Plus: What would the show really be without Emily Thorne's most formidable enemy?
Add to Watchlist: Madeline Stowe
Photo by: Colleen Hayes/ABC/Getty Images
Monroe and Tom Neville (David Lyons and Giancarlo Esposito), Revolution
They might be in charge of a tyrannical regime, but we don't mind turning a blind eye to Monroe and Neville's misdeeds. Rough around the edges and driven by love, the devious duo is simply far more interesting than our squeaky-clean heroine Charlie. Plus, those militia uniforms are pretty badass. Where do we sign up?
Photo by: Brownie Harris/NBC, Bob Mahoney/NBC
The Trickster (Richard Speight Jr.), Supernatural
Some know him as Gabriel, others as Loki, but to us he'll always be The Trickster. And even though this angel seems to revel in making the Winchesters' lives hell, his heart was always in the right place (for the most part). Whether he was trapping Sam and Dean in a time loop or an alternate TV reality, The Trickster just wanted what every Miss America contestant dreams of: world peace!
Add to Watchlist: Richard Speight Jr.
Photo by: Michael Courtney/The CW
Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), American Horror Story: Asylum
Jude started out as the Big Bad, but the former nun's one-liners, determination and, yes, even her song-and-dance number had us cheering her on. She's also a hero to women, preaching feminist ideals to anyone who'd listen (even to a Nazi doctor!). It was no surprise that both Kit and Lana went back to try and save the Sister.
Add to Watchlist: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum
Photo by: Byron Cohen/FX
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Game of Thrones
Not only did Jaime "The Kingslayer" Lannister kill the king he had sworn to protect, but he also conducted an incestuous affair with his own twin sister, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey), thereby assisting her in cuckolding the next king. How arrogant and icky is that? Somehow, we've forgiven him because he has a devilish smile, is a badass swordfighter, is the only family member who's kind to his long-suffering brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and really is driven by love — as sick and wrong and inadvisable that love may be. Will Jaime ever be worthy of sitting on the Iron Throne? Probably not. But what would be the fun in that anyway?
Add to Watchlist: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Photo by: HBO
Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare), True Blood
The dastardly vampire has been scorching the Earth for centuries, even killing Eric's family when he was a boy. But his most famous act was ripping out a news anchor's spine on live television before damning all humans. A despicable act for sure, but did you see the guy's impeccably hilarious delivery? Maybe we're just suckers for his accent.
Add to Watchlist: Denis O'Hare
Photo by: John P. Johnson/HBO